It’s the first day of the year. Which means it’s time for renewal, reflection, and….resolutions. At this moment, scores of folks are surely busy cataloguing their various goals for the year.
But most of those goals, despite the best of intentions, will go unmet.
Goals are a tricky thing, all too often sabotaged in the end by unrealistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations about what can be accomplished and how quickly. At the beginning of the year we’re brimming with fire and motivation, filled with it a sense of possibility. Lose 30 pounds in a month? Yeah, no problem!
Yet, motivation fades. And all the more quickly when you realize things are gonna take a lot longer than you anticipated.
The same can be true of your goals with music. It’s virtually impossible to predict what you’ll be able to accomplish and when, and you never know when life might get in the way to derail your efforts.
Fortunately, there’s a better way. A way to ensure that, if you happen to find yourself in the resolution-setting mood this New Year’s day, you don’t end up sabotaging yourself.
That better way is this: commit to a process, not an outcome.
The research is clear on this. Those who commit to a process, or a specific behavior, are far more successful in reaching their goals than those those who commit to an outcome.
For weight loss, for example, it means committing to walking for 20 minutes a day, rather than saying you’ll lose 10 pounds in a month. It’s committing to spending 15 minutes a day practicing your Spanish vocabulary, rather than saying you’ll become fluent in Spanish in a year.
Likewise, for the banjo, it’s committing to the learning process, however you want that to look. Commit to 10 minutes a day working on new material and skills, and 10 minutes a day revisiting your old stuff, for example.
Commit to some behavior that, if repeated daily over time, will ultimately lead to the outcome you desire (which could be as simple as getting a little bit better every week). And whatever it may be, make it something that you can stick to – you can always do more if you want.
This becomes even more powerful if you can ritualize the behavior and turn it into a habit. Set your banjo in a stand next to your favorite chair, for instance, so that after a while it becomes second nature to grab it for 20 minutes when you sit down in the evening. And store any learning materials you’re working from nearby.
With consistent, focused effort you can move mountains. Commit to the right process for 2015, and the desired outcome will naturally follow.